Pubdate: Thu, 2 Dec 2010
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2010 Miami Herald Media Co.
Author: Marc Caputo, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Bookmark: (Johnson, Gary)


A self-made millionaire Republican is campaigning in Florida on a 
platform of spending cuts
and less government.

It's not Rick Scott, anymore.

This is Gary E. Johnson -- a former New Mexico governor and
marijuana-legalization advocate -- who's putting out Florida feelers
in a possible bid for the presidency in 2012.

Johnson's campaign-style stops in Tallahassee, Melbourne and Orlando
last week reveal that the presidential race is already at a low boil
in the nation's largest swing state. Without Florida, Republicans say,
they can't recapture the White House.

Johnson shrugs when told he's a long-shot candidate. Johnson has
overcome long odds before. As a political newcomer, he beat a
three-term incumbent in 1992.

Johnson says his legacy of record vetoes and tax cuts from 1995 to
2003 in New Mexico separate him from the crowd of likely presidential

So do his positions on pot and the drug war.

"The issue of marijuana legalization is obviously an
attention-getter," Johnson said. "And you can't shy away from it. I
have to defend it. I have to defend the position."

Johnson's reasons: Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and the cost
of locking up pot smokers exacts too much of a toll on civil liberties
and on taxpayers.

"I don't drink. I don't smoke pot. But I've drank and I've smoked
pot," said Johnson, an accomplished tri-athlete who once scaled Mount
Everest. "The big difference between the two is that marijuana is a
lot safer than alcohol."

Johnson said it shouldn't be legal to sell marijuana to children, or
to operate a car under the influence. He said he also opposes
legalizing cocaine, heroine and crystal methamphetamine.
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